By Sam Stone

16th Nov, 2022 | 8:10pm

Gary Neville is absolutely spot on as 49ers make behind-the-scenes Leeds United move

Leeds United fans will be completely aware of Gary Neville’s recent outburst over American ownership models becoming a frequent occurrence in the Premier League.

The Sky Sports pundit has previously highlighted (Twitter, 14 September) US investment as being a “clear and present danger” to English football as we know it.

There will be many involved with Leeds who don’t really want to hear what the former Manchester United full-back has to say, with the 49ers enterprise said to be gathering funds to complete a full takeover of the Whites in 2024 (The Times, 9 November).

Leeds are already part of a long list of Premier League clubs, that are, in some way or another, owned or partially owned by Americans.

Arsenal, Aston Villa, Chelsea, Crystal Palace, Fulham, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester City and Manchester United all have American input at boardroom level – and now that almost half of the Premier League is owned by US investors, should there now be a genuine concern?

Firstly, there was a worrying suggestion made by The Athletic (28 March) which has to be highlighted.

They wrote: “Those close to American owners at Premier League clubs have suggested privately that the Chelsea implosion, triggered by the UK government’s decision to sanction Abramovich for his links to Russian president Vladimir Putin, which Abramovich has always vehemently denied, offers vindication for the apolitical and commercially-driven model favoured by US owners.”

Moving Abramovich’s involvement to one side, there is essentially a suggestion that American ownership models are eager for the Premier League to become detached from owners who are associated with a particular country and essentially look to make England’s top far more commercialised – much like the sports we see across the pond.

Now that nine clubs have American influence, there should potentially be eyebrows raised as to which way the Premier League is heading – and we have already seen an eagerness for English clubs to be more commercial.

The European Super League campaign saw Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United and Arsenal all try and branch away into a competition which involved no relegation and eliminated risk, purely to improve their commercial interests. With US influence now growing, it’s not out of the question for a similar scenario to occur again in the future.

Another aspect to consider with American ownership, which Neville highlighted in his tweet, is that they simply “don’t get it”.

The Premier League and English football as a whole is an extremely unique part of our society. Going to games and enjoying them as they have been for decades is exactly what fans want. American sports are built around comfort for fans, making sure there are plenty of other elements to attending a sporting event, apart from the actual event itself.

We’ve also seen American ownership models dramatically misjudge the feel of how things work in the UK. Liverpool’s FSG have been criticised on a number of occasions for playing their part in the Project Big Picture proposal and also utilising the government’s furlough scheme during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Aspects of fan culture, transfer windows and how the league system works don’t need changing any time soon.

For Leeds fans, Andrea Radrizzani has backed the club financially in recent years. Whether they have recruited the right players is up for debate, but the money has certainly been there.

With the 49ers set to take control, it’s important to consider Liverpool, Arsenal and Manchester United as examples of how US investors can go “silent”. Liverpool and Arsenal have finally had some success but for years there was negligence and a lack of backing when it came to transfer windows and United have seen Old Trafford reduced to ruin, as the Glazers drip-feed money out of the club.

These investors see Premier League clubs as a safe commercial opportunity and they’re taking advantage of it. For Leeds, it promises to be an intriguing couple of years with the 49ers taking over, but fans should certainly take note of what has occurred elsewhere when it comes to investment from across the pod. On a much wider scale, the number of US-owned clubs could be a genuine worry.

Neville may have a point.

In other Leeds United news, Phil Hay has revealed the whispers he’s heard at Elland Road about when the 49ers will complete their takeover.